Earlier this month, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) unveiled a new design for the 132 West Freeway Project. The project has a new manager, and all new staff. Most of the previous management personnel involved in the project are retired. The latest iteration of the project is basically the same as the original design considered in 2014.
According to Grace Magsayo, the new project manager, the primary change is a longer ramp from southbound 99 Freeway traffic exiting at Kansas Avenue and I Street in Modesto. All public comment made regarding the original design has been filed away and forgotten. When I asked the new project manager what happened to the countless hours of prior public testimony, Ms. Magsayo said that she hadn’t seen it. When I asked her if the comments would be located and brought forward, she didn’t know where the comments were filed but said she supposed that the record was somewhere. I asked her to locate my prior comments and insert them into the comments for the current Environmental Impact Report. She promised that she would see if she can locate my comments, but offered no guarantee.
The New Plan Is Lacking
The latest plan provides that toxic waste in the 132 Freeway Right of Way will NOT be removed. Carpenter Road will not have a full interchange. Westbound 132 traffic will be filtered through a congested traffic signal at Franklin and Needham Streets. The first phase will be a two lane road. All of the congestion problems outlined in previous Valley Citizen articles will be incorporated into the newest design. The facility will encourage greater use of the 132 highway corridor west of Modesto with no corresponding increase in traffic capacity west of the project.
132 Rush Hour Traffic
With the economy booming in the San Francisco Bay Area, the number of commuters using Route 132 during rush hour has increased to the point where stop and go traffic persists between Interstate 5 on the west to Gates Road in the east. The 132 West Freeway Project will cause worse congestion by encouraging more traffic to use the route without adding capacity.
A Boondoggle In the Making
The reader is encouraged to refer to previous articles in the Valley Citizen for a comprehensive understanding of the negative ramifications of the Freeway Project as currently designed. Rather than serve as a positive asset to the community, the 132 West Freeway Project will result in an elevated Freeway eyesore, contain a toxic waste dump, add to air pollution, add to congestion, and not permit adequate access to the facility by residents on the west side of town. Why would the community permit this poorly planned project to be built? Perhaps, the people who run the community don’t really care. They don’t live in the area that will be adversely affected by the project.